Komane: We did stokvel, not drugs

2012-04-24 00:00

GIVING evidence in the high court in a bid to win back her assets from the Asset Forfeiture Unit, Pietermaritzburg businesswoman Joyce Komane denied yesterday that she had ever been involved in drug dealing.

Komane also testified to Judge Rishi Seegobin that although she had been a long-standing and close friend of the woman dubbed Pietermaritzburg’s “drug queen”, Ramjini Chetty, she never knew that Chetty had any involvement with drugs until an incident in which one of Chetty’s workers was arrested.

The arrest happened shortly before Chetty and a number of others, including Komane, were arrested in 2005 and stood trial on charges of dealing in cocaine and mandrax from Chetty’s properties in Queen Street. Chetty is serving an effective sentence of 24 years’ imprisonment for running a drug enterprise.

Komane was found by the trial court to have supplied Chetty’s enterprise with cocaine and mandrax, and she was convicted of additional charges such as money laundering and sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.

However she was later acquitted of all the charges on appeal by judges Anton van Zyl and Jerome Mnguni. Despite her acquittal, the AFU is intent on proving in a civil trial in the high court that Komane’s assets — which include various businesses and properties — are the proceeds of crime, specifically drug trafficking.

Under cross-examination by advocate Mike Govindasamy SC for the AFU, Komane testified that she met Ramjini Chetty in about 1997 through Chetty’s sister-in-law, Jeannie. She alleged their association was based mainly on a mutual interest in stokvels, which Komane was involved in, and they became friends.

She agreed that she frequented Chetty’s Queen Street home, but said she never knew Chetty was involved with drugs.

She also denied having had much to do with Chetty’s brother, Gavin, who gave evidence in the high court last week that Komane was involved in the drugs business with his sister.

Under cross-examination Komane said she had been expecting her former close friend, Lucky Gordon — who was declared a hostile witness last week for changing his evidence — to “lie” about her in the case.

In his police statement Gordon stated that when he won R1,8 million on the Lotto, he used some of his winnings to pay Komane R36 000 he had “short paid” her for drugs over a period of time.

However, when called to the witness stand last week, Gordon said he never obtained drugs from Komane and named his supplier as Eric Terry of Woodlands.

Komane said she did not know why Gordon ever mentioned her name in his police statement as she had never supplied him with drugs. Komane testified that all her businesses and properties were legitimately purchased and were not proceeds of crime.

She alleged that one of the houses in dispute in Bisley belongs to her mother, who bought and paid for it herself.

Komane said she’d paid deposits on various properties from a sum of R100 000 given to her by her late husband as her share of the sale of a garage they’d owned in Greytown.

She said she used rent to pay off mortgages on the properties.

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